§ Mr. Riddick
To ask the Secretary of State for Education when he plans to issue fresh guidance on the organisation of schools, reflecting the new provisions of the Education Act 1993.
§ Mr. Patten
I have, earlier today, issued a consultative circular on the supply of school places, to which interested parties have been asked to respond by Friday 5 August. The circular emphasises the importance of quality, choice, diversity and cost-effectiveness in the provision of new school places and describes the action being taken to secure that. Principal elements in the circular are:
- (i) the announcement that, in certain circumstances, I may be prepared to approve proposals for new school places despite the absence of a projected shortfall of places in the area, in particular where in my view the proposed new school places would significantly enhance the quality, choice and diversity of education available in that area and where there would be scope, following the approval of new places, for rationalising places at other schools;
- (ii) a description of the new framework for the organisation of schools under the 1993 Act, including the role of the new Funding Agency for Schools;
- (iii) guidance on how promoters might establish new grant-maintained schools. This new pathway is already attracting considerable interest;
- (iv) an outline of the streamlined process for the removal of surplus places, where practicable, while acknowledging that some may need to be retained to promote parental choice, or to preserve access to schools in rural areas.